How to escape

Ramesh (35) has come to Pokhara from Chitwan where the local Maoist group demands that every family who has at least two sons should sacrifice one of them to their militia. His days in Pokhara are full of work and thoughts about how to find a better way of life.

Ramesh (35) is one of many who have been internally displaced due to the Maoist insurgency. The Maoist movement is controlling the rural area Nepal, which is most of the country. There are today hundreds and thousands of people living in district headquarters or in the capital as internally displaced persons. They have left their homes because of fear. As a new year is about to start, the Maoist movement is controlling the rural area of Nepal, which is most of the country. The war has lasted nine long years and demanded about 11.000 casualties.

Ramesh, like many others with him, is working in the tourist industry in Pokhara. He is manager of the staff in one of the hotels, one of the few that are still coping well, even with the decreasing number of tourists coming. Maybe it has to do with the green and clean surroundings or maybe it is simply because of the perfect service the hotel can offer, much thanks to Ramesh himself. At five in the morning he can be seen moving up and down stairs, looking to his right and left, inspecting the facilities. If there is a cigarette or a towel out of place, he will be sure to locate it and have it removed. If a spoon or a napkin is missing in one of the tables, he will notice before the guest does and kindly instruct the staff to provide the missing item.

Rameshs life has not always been like this. He used to live in a village in Chitwan where life was peaceful and quiet and future seemed bright. These days, however, the Maoist forces in Chitwan arrive in the evening in the homes of the local people, to ask for food, supplies or for new soldiers. If the family has more than one son, one of them has to join their forces. Ramesh has two brothers and no wish to become a gerilla soldier in the Chitwan jungle.

  • Can you go back to Chitwan? I ask, knowing that his old parents are still living there without being able to see their grandchildren.
  • No, it can be dangerous.
  • What do you think the government should do about the situation?
  • Some of the demands the Maoists are making are reasonable, like abolishing the caste system and improving conditions for the poor, the landless and the people living in rural areas. The government should give the Maoists some of the things they want, so that peace can be restored.

Due to the difficult situation in Nepal, many people would like to leave the country, as they see no future for themselves staying here. Even if Ramesh has a nice job, he would also like to seek employment in a foreign country.

  • I would like to go to another country to work, but it is hard to get the money and visa necessary, he says.

Pokhara, September 2004

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